ReViewing Interior ReDesign
Interior Redesign Industry Specialists
By James Askew
In today’s tight times, interior redesign and home staging have become leading specialties in the profession of interior design.
In the last decade, the green-patina of the sustainable movement has come to interior design, represented in the rising specialties of interior redesign and home staging. And along with that rise, so has come the specialties’ own organization, Interior Redesign Industry Specialists, a professional non-profit with over 800 members across the country.
We’ve all done it before, at one time or another. Anyone, that is, who has had even a room to call their own. Move the sofa here; the chair over there; and take down that tired, old print and replace it with something finer.
Whether you call it an interior redesign, rearranging, repurposing, flipping a room, or simply moving furniture, the intent remains the samegive a room fresh new look using only what you have on hand.
For those in the business, it is known as an interior redesign, and together with the art of home staging, the two are the fastest growing specialties in the interior design profession. Redesign, by definition, is using what is in the home to create that room’s fresh new look. Home staging, on the other hand, is doing the same, only the intent is somewhat different. Home staging is the art of sprucing up a home for resale.
“Staging is somewhat different from redesign, because it is the flipside,” explains Pam Faulkner the owner of Faulkner Home Interior Redesign, in Oak Hill, VA. “Redesign is personalizing the home and showcasing the owner’s style, while with staging you want to showcase the house, not the client’s style.”
Though the two differ in ways, Faulkner notes that it is what they share in common that’s important. At the core of each specialty is an over-arching philosophy of reuse, repurposing, and conservation, and in these tight times of renewed frugality, their appeal can’t be beataesthetics, style, and a touch of the “green” all tied up in one.
Nine years ago, in 2001, when Faulkner was handed an article to read and told by a friend, ‘This is what you do,’ Faulkner says that she was pleasantly surprised by she learned. 'Oh, I said, this is what I do,” Faulkner recounts with a laugh. “I had been doing it for years, and I didn’t even know there was a name for it.”
The article Faulkner read was about IRIS (Interior Redesign Industry Specialists), a recently founded, professional organization dedicated solely to advancement of interior redesign and home staging. “And I didn’t know there was an association that did this,” Faulkner adds.
IRIS was founded in 1999 by 25 interior designers and decorators working in and around California, and its expressed mission is “to establish and maintain high industry standards, promote public awareness, and expand the fields of redesign and staging.” Today, the organization boasts over 800 members in eight chapters spread out across the US and lower parts of Canada.
Anna Jacoby is the executive director of IRIS and the owner of Anna Jacoby Interiors in Freemont, California. Jacoby also joined IRIS in 2002, and is now in her fifth year on the IRIS board of directors. She spent two years as secretary, two more as vice director, and became executive director in January 2010. “A lot of the founders were trained by the same trainers,” Jacoby explains, “and so they all got together just to have some camaraderie and friendship. Then they decided that it needed to be bigger than just the few of them, and so they created IRIS.”
At the core of IRIS’s mission, Jacoby says, is the recognition that interior redesign and home staging are no longer just subsets of the interior design profession, but highly-skilled and creative professions entirely on their own. “Ten years ago, staging on the residential level, and redesign as whole, were almost entirely unheard of,” Jacoby says, noting, however, that in 2009, CareerBuilder.com rated home staging as the number one emerging career for the coming years.
Faulkner, now the president of the IRIS D.C. area chapter, National Capital Area, says that her discovery of IRIS was the catalyst to a career change.
Faulkner had spent the early part of her working life as a visual merchandiser and retail designer for big-name retailers such as The Original Christmas Store, William-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, and Hold Everything. It was during this experience that her interest in residential interior design began to grow. Oftentimes, she says, she would be up on a ladder or arranging a store display and customers would ask her advice. “I could see people needed help,” Faulkner says, “and I think the impression was that interior design was going to cost a lot more than they were willing to spend.”
Faulkner read the article on IRIS in 2001, and by the end of 2002 she had taken the IRIS certification course, joined as a member, and opened her own business. She says that IRIS not only put a name to something she’d been doingand loving for years, it also gave her the confidence to turn a part-time passion into a full-time endeavor, now eight years old and growing. Faulkner began organizing the D.C area members in 2005, and National Capital Area became an official IRIS chapter in 2009.
Rather than Faulkner being a rarity in the profession, coming to it later in life, Jacoby says that a majority of IRIS members share a story similar to Faulkner’s. Although, she notes, most don’t come to the profession with Faulkner’s level of past design experience. Most IRIS members are women, Jacoby says, over 40, and originally took the IRIS training as part of major life or career change.
In addition to providing camaraderie for interior redesigners and home stagers around the county, IRIS also provides an extensive network of training and continuing education opportunities. At the center of its training activities are IRIS approved courses, for certification as an IRIS certified interior redesign specialist (CIRS) and /or an IRIS certified interior staging specialist (CISS). IRIS also conducts regular monthly teleconferences and webinars, often involving guest professionals from outside the organization. Additionally, IRIS hosts the annual IRIS International Redesign and Staging Conference and Expo, a fanfare event that involves two and half days of meet and greets, guest speakers, a professional Q&A, and a variety of vendors catering to the needs of the professions.
As an IRIS instructor, Jacoby says that attending to business side of the profession is a crucial part of IRIS training. Most IRIS instructors offer either three-day or five-day training courses, and Jacoby says that during a five-day course, she might dedicate two and half days just to business.
of the biggest challenges that most students face, as do all entrepreneurs,” Jacoby says, “is developing the business part, especially if you came from a totally different background that is not at all business related.”
Judy Rink is an IRIS member and the owner of SpaceMagic Interior Redesign and Staging, in Vancouver, BC, and like Faulkner, Rink came to the profession following success in an earlier career. Prior to opening Spacemagic in 2007, Rink was manager of the Western Division of the Academy of Canadian Cinema, and she says that after 13 years with the Academy, she had met her goals and was ready for something different.
was looking for something that would give me an interesting interaction with people, but also something that made sense to me,” Rink says. “And I love the sustainability part of redesign, the idea of using what you have, and making it look good.”
And at the end of the day, agree Faulkner, Rink, and Jacoby, the love of making a room look good is really what their business is all aboutno matter what you call it.
Giving a Little Back
By James Askew
In the fall of 2008, a member of the Washington, D.C. area IRIS chapter, National Capital Area, came to the group of 13 interior redesigners and home stagers with a proposala local charity, known as Shelter House, was looking for volunteers to “Adopt an Apartment.” What Shelter House needed was volunteers that would go in and refurbish apartments set up for homeless families.
It wasn’t the first philanthropic work the group had done, and with little hesitation they accepted the challenge. “It blossomed from one apartment, into three apartments,” recalls Pam Faulkner, the chapter’s president.
Faulkner says that for all of the group’s accumulated experience in interior design and decorating, these apartments were some of the toughest design challenges they have faced. Each apartment was small, one no more than 600-square-feet, and set up to house an entire family, up to eight people. “We are talking about two sets of bunk beds in two bedrooms, and just enough space between the beds for a dresser wedged in there.”
To tackle the projects, the participating designers divided into the three groups. With families moving in and out of the apartments, each group was given very little warning and just a week to completely refurbish the apartment.
“So, we approached it as we would any client,” Faulkner says. “What we wanted to do was create a space that was comforting and welcoming no matter how hard of a day they had.”
And the results were stunning. By scouring the want-ads and taking donations, each group transformed what were once cold, white rooms into lively, colorful spaces, with brightly painted walls, pictures hung, throw pillows on the couch, and settings on the table, making each apartment a true home, lacking in space, perhaps, but not in beauty, style, and grace.